jackpenate

Living in the UK during a time when I couldn’t listen to the radio without being harassed by “Spit at Stars” (and successfully memorizing every word unwillingly), I never thought my album of the summer would be Jack Peñate’s sophomore release, Everything Is New. A 360-degree turn in sound, Everything is bursting with a fresh, emotional and danceable vigor that will make Peñate bigger in the UK (if that’s possible) and gather a following in the US. Chatting with him during his initial summer take on NYC, Peñate was playing tiny venues warming up for an August US release that will bring him back to the land he fancies (and wants to fancy him back).

So you’re in New York for a small jaunt this time around.

I’m here to say hello really, do a couple of little shows. It’s like you’re hosting a party and you have to turn up, and say hi.

How much longer are you here for?

Until the end of the weekend. I want to do quintessentially American things, like shoot a gun or kill a buffalo. What can an Englishman do in New York?

Um, eat a hamburger, walk over the Brooklyn bridge…

How about something extreme?

Um, eat something really big?

I’m trying to eat lots. I’m going to go back to England looking like John Candy’s brother, Jack Candy.

There you go, giving Americans a bad name about weight!

I fucking love John Candy. I find him one of the most touching American actors. He’s one of those dudes when you’re watching his movies, you wish you were his friend. Like, I want to have a beer with John Candy.

How random! The album comes out in the US in August, so this is a somewhat advance visit. How was your show at Bruar Falls in Brooklyn?

It was really wonderful to be able to just play new songs. It was lovely to just focus on the new music. When I play at home I have to always play old songs because my profile is different to what it is here. I felt like a new artist last night. It didn’t feel like I’ve been doing it for two or three years, or longer. It was all very fresh and exciting.

It’s funny you say that you feel like a new artist here. You are perceived differently in the US. With your last album Matinee, you were huge and all over the radio in the UK. Here, you have an anonymity. How do you feel about being slightly obscure?

At first it’s an adjustment, but once you get used to the idea that you can have a career here, the prospect is daunting but it’s something I would love to try and have a shot at. Even if it’s a small fanbase, I find it positive to be able to play like in Brooklyn – just new music- that’s a pleasure because I couldn’t do that anywhere else. It’s just worth it coming here, being able to take my mind somewhere else. I don’t feel like I’m being repetitive.

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 In the UK you’re a mainstream success. While here, you did a show at a new, trendy venue in Brooklyn, it’s a little more “hipster.” You’re packaged so differently.

I find it quite interesting. I think in England we have a tendency, which is good, to see anything as pop. I don’t think our idea of pop is as centralized as it is in America. In America you’re either straight up pop, or a Pitchfork-style artist, an outsider. In England you can be a metal band or a hardcore punk band and you can be played on the radio after Beyonce. We have an odd view on pop music. I enjoy coming here and feeling like I’m cool [laughs].

You have bands like Kasabian that are playing arenas in England, but they come here and are so much more discreet. It’s like night and day. That’s why I think a lot of British artists we speak to love coming here because they have more of an anyonymity and respect for their art, rather than being smeared all over NME with the typical fanfare. It’s an interesting comparison I like discussing.

I think it’s hard to get to the truth of it all. A lot of British bands and artists come out here and play small venues, but I know the truth is that I would like to come back at one point and not do that, but play a big venue. It’s like when you fancy someone, and they don’t like you, and you try to impress them more. It’s like that with America. It’s this really attractive person you want to get near, and the person sometimes turns their back on you. That’s how it is with a lot of Brit artists. Then we’re like, “we don’t care, who gives a fuck.” I don’t know how much of that attitude I believe.

The infamous negativity of the British press that seeps into everything!

It’s so bullshit. I hate it! It’s a lot more tiring being negative than it is to be positive, or truthful. They like to go out for their way to be horrible.

Well, America is like the girlfriend and Britain is like the friend who turns their back on you after liking you for a day. On a positive note, you have loads of momentum building up to this album. It’s so sunny, happy and beach-friendly. Did you purposely release it in the summer for that reason?

It’s released in the summer because it’s the only time it could come out now. At first I wanted to release it in winter but I couldn’t finish it in time. I didn’t really want to time-release it to a specific season. I suppose I have a different view on the album. I know it’s a joyous-sounding album, but I don’t think of it as a summer record in my head. For me the record is a different thing to everyone else. I don’t feel that it’s one thing- a happy, chirpy record. I hope it shows melancholy and joy, two feelings.

I think this album is appropriate for Glastonbury and festival season.

It should be fun; I’m excited. I genuinely love Glastonbury. I think it’s something which is one of the best things British people do. I’ve done a lot of festivals (not Coachella!) and I think Glastonbury is the most extreme, yet exciting festival. It’s like 300,000 people – it’s a town. I cannot even explain this. It’s in the beautiful British countryside, and you see this town that’s been made into a field. It’s like, thousands of people on pills, fucking great. Everyone is in such a good mood.

–Andrea D’Alessandro, Live photo by Tim Nestor